Azusa thinks she’s just a normal high school girl until the day she’s kidnapped by thugs at the behest of vampires. Much to her surprise, it turns out that she’s a test-tube baby engineered to preserve the dying vampire race – and she’s been born with the blood of the Ancient, the original vampire. Warring vampire factions have different ideas about what to do with her, but Azusa finds herself under the care of the Reds, who seek a way to turn vampires human. As Azusa begins her new life among them, she finds herself growing ever more involved with Kou, the so-called “akaoni” feared by the rest of the community. Is he really as bad as they say?
Although light novels have really taken off in English recently, there’s still a dearth of books targeted at a specifically female readership. That’s a gap that Cross Infinite World looks to fill, and Akaoni: Contract with a Vampire represents their third light novel offering aimed explicitly at women. It’s also their first that isn’t an isekai story; Akaoni is a modern-day vampire story that blends fantasy and romance, like a less gloomy Vampire Knight.
That makes her developing romance with Kou, the so-called Akaoni (red demon), a little more grounded as well. Neither Kou nor Azusa are truly aware of the feelings they’re developing for each other, Kou perhaps willfully and Azusa out of basic innocence. The story could easily have gone down the Twilight route with Kou’s need to protect Azusa from both the predatory Blue vampires and Tsukiharu, a semi-villainous character who appears midway through the novel, but the fact that he’s not alone in his protection duties stems the potential creepiness of their bond. The fact that Azusa develops friendships with the other vampires in her vicinity also helps, as does the way that author Hiroro builds her version of the vampire mythology – they’re much more like super-strong humans who happen to require blood at times than monsters. The fact that they can be just as nourished by another vampire’s blood as a human’s is an interesting touch; the writing also makes it clear that Kou’s attraction to Azusa isn’t because her blood is “special.”
Akaoni: Contract with a Vampire‘s first novel is an interesting story about a girl who isn’t going to be anyone’s doormat, even if those anybodies are vampires. The plot progression suffers somewhat from an inexperienced writer, but the overall volume is an entertaining read that combines action, romance, and a touch of angst well. If you’re looking for a female-oriented light novel or just something different from the majority of what’s on offer, this is worth checking out.